The Virginia Tech Hokies put up a good fight on Monday night against the Ohio State Buckeyes, but was beat by the number 1 team in the country 42-24. However, the Hokies suffered a significant loss with Michael Brewer now out 4-8 weeks after suffering a broken left collarbone.
The Hokies will only have five days between the Ohio State game, and their second game of the season between FCS team Furman. Here is our look at the keys to the game for the Hokies in what should be a fairly easily matchup even without Brewer.
Take Care of Business Early
Furman played well against one of FCS’s best teams, Coastal Carolina, last week, but that doesn’t mean that this should be a closer matchup than expected. The Hokies need to come out ready to go right out the gate against the Paladins, and try to prevent any discomfort in the second half with a tight scoreboard.
While Lane Stadium will be loud for Enter Sandman and maybe early in the first quarter, players should not be expecting an environment at all similar to the one five days ago. Hokie fans are some of the best in college football, but I don’t think there is any fan base that could get very excited for Furman. However, Hokie Nation will make it louder than most.
What Virginia Tech needs to avoid is an uncomfortable situation in the second half if this game is still within 10 points going into the second half. Personally, I expect the Hokies to pretty easily take care of business early to give the backups a chance to play, but the Hokies have to make sure they are motivated to dominate from the opening kickoff against a FCS team.
Give All Quarterbacks A Mix of Run and Pass Plays
Brenden Motley is the starter for the Hokies for now, but Dwayne Lawson will play in this game, and Chris Durkin may also likely see some time on the field. All three of these guys have very little combined experience, and this game is a great opportunity to get them experience in all aspects of the offense.
Purdue and East Carolina are not tough opponents on paper, but Motley needs to get some more experience before going on the road for these two games with ECU being a fairly loud environment. Motley also may play multiple ACC games, and the Hokies have the roster talent around him to stay near the top of the hunt for the ACC Coastal.
Motley is definitely a run-first quarterback that can be effective in options runs or on scrambles. However, the Hokies need to test Motley through the air to see what he can do in a normal game situation against Furman to build a solid offensive game-plan for the next few weeks.
Virginia Tech does not plan on redshirting Dwayne Lawson, and he needs to get a chance to gain some experience. The Hokies do have some packages for Lawson, and it will be interesting to see if Scot Loeffler can maximize the impressive athleticism, but inexperienced Lawson.
If Loeffler can get a good offensive scheme built around Lawson, the freshman may take the job from Motley before the return of Michael Brewer. The game against Furman should give the Hokies the chance to effectively evaluate all three quarterbacks on a short week of preparation before travelling to Purdue next week.
Keep the Starters Healthy
After losing Michael Brewer on Monday, Virginia Tech needs to avoid losing another significant player to injury with a couple of potentially tricky road games looming the next two weeks.
One player in particular that the Hokies not only needs to avoid a significant injury but also get healthier is Preseason All-American Kendall Fuller. It has been apparent for the last few weeks that Fuller has some sort of leg injury with Michael Thomas exposing that on a few plays on Monday night.
Fuller probably shouldn’t play in this game at all, but the Hokies seem likely to at least play him for a little bit. If they do, Virginia Tech should only use him for as long as the game is very close with the ideal time being no more than a quarter.
Getting Fuller healthy is important, and the Hokies have some young talent that would benefit from getting plenty of experience in a game like this including Mook Reynolds and Greg Stroman.
The Hokies also need to get their starters out as soon as the game is locked down, which will ideally be at halftime. Injuries hurt the Hokies last season, and can’t afford too many more injuries with Michael Brewer out, and Kendall Fuller banged up.